Systema Leg Training

Training the Legs

by Emmanuel Manolakakis

I’ve had a lot of questions from students about how to develop their leg for martial art [movements, working flexibility, and creativity]. Below I have compiled some drills and training ideas that I hope will help everyone. These are just a few ideas that have helped me personally and my hope is that they do the same for you.

WARM-UP / STRETCHING

1. Stick Rubbing

Begin by rubbing your legs with a stick (any kind will do). Rub as hard as you can without causing any pain. ‘Wake up’ your skin.

2. Stick Tapping

After rubbing your legs start tapping them all over. Tap as hard as you can without causing any pain. ‘Wake up’ your muscles.

3. Joint Rolls

Roll your ankles, knees, hips and waist, one at a time in a circular fashion. Make the circles as large as possible, without losing balance. Remember to breath. Image you have a pen stuck to the joint and you want to draw a circle in the air.

4. Movement Stretching

A. Start to stretch legs out from standing position. As you reach the end of your flexibility for a given movement, switch into another direction and continue with your movement/stretch. Just never hold anyone position.

B. Same as number ‘a’ but use a wall to help you stretch. Remember don’t hold anyone position or your breath.

C. Same as ‘a’ & ‘b’ but now go the ground and use the ground to help you stretch.

STRENGTH

1. Wall Work

Squat up against a wall. Make sure that your back, heals and shoulders stay in constant contact as you go up and down with breathing. Same from the front

2. Vertical Jumps

With your feet in a comfortable position – jump straight up as high as you can and land as softly as you can. Think of how a cat lands – very softly, almost catching itself upon landing.

3. Tension

Contract your entire lower body during inhaling then relax on exhaling.

Repeat 1 & 2 with the left and right legs.

Repeat 1 & 2 with the front, back and inside of the legs.

Hold the tension or relaxation as long as you can inhale and exhale.

4. Piggy Back Walking

Put someone on your back and start walking. Focus on breathing and posture.

DRILLS

1. Broken Leg

Make one leg straight and declare it broken. Go to the ground and get up without disturbing or bending the injured leg.

2. Move a Chair (standing)

Put a chair in the middle of a room and start moving it with your feet first. Then progress to using your knees.

3. Move a Chair (from ground)

Put a chair in the middle of a room and start moving it with your feet first. Then progress to using your knees.

4. Shoe Toss

Get a pair of old shoes – ones that don’t lace up. Practice taking then half off and throwing them from your foot with a whip-like fashion. Once proficient in the move, focus in on targets on a wall and try to hit them with your shoes. Start to see your legs and tools as well as weapons.

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